In 2014, the state of South Carolina passed a driving under the influence (DUI) law after a repeat drunk driver killed a six-year-old girl in a fatal car crash. This law, called Emma’s Law, requires that DUI offenders equip their vehicles with install ignition interlock devices (IIDs). Attorneys familiar with Emma’s Law in Orangeburg, SC know all about this fairly new law and how it can affect you if you are charged with a DUI.
How Driving While Impaired Effects the Body
How you act and how alcohol affects you depends entirely on your blood alcohol level. Your cognitive abilities, judgment, and ability to function are all dependent on your how much alcohol is in your system, as outlined below:
- .0020-0.039%: slight euphoria, relaxation
- 0.040-0.059%: relaxed, lowered inhibitions, happiness, warmth, euphoria, minor judgment, and memory impairment.
- 0.06-0.099%: speech, balance and hearing impairment set in and euphoria increases. speech, visual reaction time and hearing become an impaired feeling of euphoria increases.
- 0.100-0.129%: motor coordination is severely impacted, and loss of good judgment occurs. The speech begins with slur and vision, reaction time and hearing all become impaired.
- 0.130-0.159%: complete lack of physical control, blurred vision occurs. Major loss of balance as well as motor impairment. Euphoria begins to diminish as dysphoria begins.
- 0.160-0.199%: dysphoria takes over, and nausea may occur.
- 0.200-0.249%: complete mental incapability to walk or speak. Vomiting may occur, and blackout becomes a possibility.
- 0.250-0.399%: alcohol poisoning occurs, and/or one loses consciousness
- 0.40% +: coma and possible death may occur from respiratory arrest.
Orangeburg, South Carolina lawyers understand what the legal limits are for blood alcohol levels in South Carolina, and will make sure that the correct protocol was followed in testing your blood alcohol level to ensure that the case that the state has against you is valid.
Drunk Driving Statistics in South Carolina
In South Carolina, any driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher is considered to be impaired and legally not able to drive.
Between the years of 2003 and 2012, a total of 3,870 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in South Carolina. In 2016 alone, there were a total of 331 drunk driving deaths in South Carolina, an increase of 24 from the year before. South Carolina ranks 6th among all states in America in the total of drunk driving fatalities in each state.
There were a total of 37,641 people killed in traffic fatalities in the United States in 2016. Over 10,400 of these fatalities were alcohol-impaired, with South Carolina accounting for 331 of them. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driving under the influence is a huge problem in South Carolina. In 2013 alone, 44% of traffic fatalities in South Carolina were as a result of alcohol-impaired driving, which was 13% higher than the national average at the time. Since then, advocates have been pressing for Emma’s Law and stricter regulations and punishments for offenders who drive while under the influence.
The most recent 2016 study of fatalities in South Carolina showed that 33% of traffic fatalities were due to impaired driving. Each year, roughly 30,000 drivers are charged with driving under the influence in the state of Carolina. This is a massive number which advocates are trying to reduce by passing stricter laws and raising more awareness of the dangers of driving under the influence.
A Brief History of Emma’s Law
Emma’s Law came into effect after the death of a six-year-old girl on New Year’s Day in 2012. The little girl, named Emma Longstreet, was killed by a drunk driver while she and her family had been on their way to church. The man responsible for Emma’s death, Billy Hutto Jr., was a repeat DUI offender. After a long night of drinking, he ran a red light and crashed into the Longstreet family’s van, killing Emma instantly. Hutto Jr. was tried and convicted and was sentenced to 9 years in prison.
After Emma’s death, her parents David and Karen fought long and hard to bring South Carolina’s DUI laws to the forefront and have them changed. After a two-year fight, South Carolina governor Nikki Haley signed the legislation for the new law.
Attorneys familiar with Emma’s Law in Orangeburg, SC can help provide you with a better understanding of this new law and walk you through what to expect if you have been charged with a DUI.
What Does Emma’s Law Entail?
This new legislation, passed by Governor Nikki Haley in May 2014, forces new requirements on convicted DUI drivers. The law states that all offenders who have been convicted of a DUI on or before October 1, 2014 (having been found with blood alcohol content level of .15 or greater) require a mandatory ignition interlock device on their vehicle. Another requirement of this law is that the driver must keep the IID in his or her car for a minimum period of six months.
First-time offenders with blood alcohol levels between .08 and .14 have the option of installing an ignition interlock device on his or her car or face a driver’s license suspension. If a person has been convicted of a DUI in the past, he or she may be required to have an IID installed on a vehicle for a period of up to two years.
If an offender refuses to agree to the IID program, they will be forced to turn in their license and the registration of the vehicle.
If you have been charged with a DUI, attorneys familiar with Emma’s Law in Orangeburg, SC can help provide you with information regarding the law and how it has enhanced the already existing IID program in a number of ways. Some enhancements to the IID program include:
- First offenders with a breath alcohol content of .15 or greater are now required by law to complete the IID program.
- Offenders must use a camera IID.
- The hard suspension period for repeat offenders has been removed.
- The option of non-participation has been removed from the program (it is now mandatory for all offenders to carry an IID in their vehicle).
- Completion of the IID program is now a mandatory requirement for all DUI offenses.
- Heavy, strict penalties have now been enforced if an offender is caught driving without an IID.
An amendment was made to Emma’s Law in May 2015 to make the following changes:
- Drivers will be penalized if found tampering with the IID in their vehicles.
- Drivers will be penalized for covering the lens on the IID.
- Drivers will be penalized for having a third-party person who is not driving the vehicle blow into the device to start the vehicle.
Offenders in the program must have the IIDs in their vehicles inspected every 60 days. They must also have the data on their IID inspected a minimum every 60 days, and this must be done by service center providers.
Offenders caught driving under the influence on or after October 1, 2014, cannot have their driver’s license reinstated until they have successfully completed the ignition interlock device program. Those who choose not to enroll in the program will have their driver’s license suspended.
What is an Ignition Interlock Device?
An IID is a breathalyzer placed in vehicles that can detect if there is alcohol on a person’s breath. It prevents an offender from turning on his or her car if any alcohol is detected.
Offenders who are required to place IIDs in their vehicles must obtain the device and install it at their own cost. They are also required to pay for monitoring costs associated with the IID. Ignition interlock devices cost up to $1,000, while the monitoring of the device itself costs $100 per month.
The Ignition Interlock Device Program was developed in July 2007, when the Prevention of Underage Drinking and Access to Alcohol Act was signed. This law set the requirements for the IID program in agreement with the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV) and the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (SC DAODAS).
Lawyers who are familiar with Emma’s Law in Orangeburg, SC are well-versed in the laws and requirements of the IID program as well as the expectations of the SCDMB and the SC DAODAS.
What Emma’s Law Means for South Carolina Drivers
If you have been charged with impaired driving, you should seek legal help immediately. You should familiarize yourself with Emma’s Law and learn what to expect if charged with a DUI. Attorneys familiar with Emma’s Law in Orangeburg, SC are here to walk you through the process and provide you with any information you may need if you are facing a DUI charge.
If you are pulled over by a police officer for a suspected DUI, you are issued a temporary driver’s license which is valid for ten days. After ten days, your driver’s license is suspended. If found guilty of your first DUI offense, you could face a six-month suspension, possible jail time, and up to $1,000 in fines.
Challenging Breath and Field Sobriety Test Results
Attorneys familiar with Emma’s Law in Orangeburg, SC are here to help you challenge breath and field sobriety tests if you think your rights were violated.
You have the right to challenge the results of your breathalyzer test. This is why it is extremely important to contact an experienced lawyer to discuss your options if you are facing a DUI charge. Your lawyer will be experienced in these types of cases and can use this knowledge to analyze and determine when or if the state has a case against you.
An attorney will examine the breath test or the field sobriety test to determine if the results of the tests are admissible in court. If an attorney deems that the results are not admissible, they will argue for the evidence to be withdrawn, which can lead to a complete dismissal or reduction of charges.
In South Carolina, the law requires that breathalyzer and field sobriety tests be videotaped. If your tests were not videotaped or the videotape recording proves to be of poor quality and does not give an accurate account of the test, any lawyer familiar with Emma’s Law in Orangeburg, SC can defend you and state that your rights were violated. An attorney can also use these tapes to analyze the police officer’s actions to see if proper protocol and procedure were followed during the testing and the arrest.
A lawyer will analyze how the sobriety tests were administered. They will also determine if the officer (or officers) arrested you under the correct protocol and if your sobriety tests were given in the right conditions. Your lawyer will analyze the tapes to make sure the officers did not violate your rights and will also analyze the breathalyzer calibration and any other factors that may have negatively impacted the results of your sobriety test which led to an arrest and charge for driving under the influence.
Attorneys familiar with Emma’s Law in Orangeburg, SC will go through your case piece by piece to understand the events leading up to the arrest, and will also make sure that the charges are valid. They will do what they can with the information at hand in an attempt to have your DUI charges dismissed or even reduced.
Consult with an Experienced DUI Defense Lawyer in Orangeburg, South Carolina
If you are charged with a DUI, it does not automatically mean you pay fines, end up in jail, or pay for an IID. You should never give up and accept the charges. Visit or speak to an attorney who specializes in DUI charges to see if the state has a good case or if it can be fought. If a lawyer determines that your rights were violated or that the proper procedure was not followed in administering your breathalyzer test, you may be eligible to have your charges dismissed or reduced. You deserve the right to a fair and legal defense against any type of charge. Contact an attorney in Orangeburg, SC for help or more information on how Emma’s Law could affect your case.